“There are decades of research into how advertising influences doctors’ prescribing practices,” said Dr. Aaron Kesselheim of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, who specializes in pharmaceutical ethics. “Even though they’ll tell you that they’re giving patients unbiased, evidence-based information, in fact they’re more likely to tell you what the drug company told them, whether it’s the benefits of the drugs or the risks of those drugs.”
The American Psychiatric Association (ADD criteria, drug money)
Medical/Academic journals (drug ads)
Parent advocacy groups (drug ads)
Magazines (drugs ads targeting kids)
Health websites (Do You Have ADD? quizzes, drug ads)
The reporter, Alan Schwartz gets credit for writing such claim-busting phrases as "no science" or "not supported by science" or "no credible national study" in reference to the incidence of the disorder among adults, the educational benefits of stimulant medications, the lifelong benefits, the prognosis for untreated ADD (i.e. prison), etc.
The NY Times also got in on the quasi-science. They pestered 1,106 adults to take the same 6-question quiz that appears on a webpage sponsored by Shire, maker of ADD meds. A quiz sure to zap too many minutes of your day. Anyhow 33% scored "A.D.H.D. Possible" and 16% "A.D.H.D. May Be Likely" but only 5% were ever diagnosed by a professional. I scored a "Possible" though I most definitely do not have A.D.H.D. Not even during this holiday season.
Are some kids diagnosed who probably don't have it? Yes. Do I doubt the existence of ADD or attentional issues in children? No. Nor do I doubt the efficacy of medications like Ritalin and Adderall. In fact I don't discount automatically good research showing a drug's safety simply because it was sponsored by a pharma company and I'm surprised this article didn't get into that research a touch more. Then again it focused on the"selling" and not so much the "studying." I would have preferred more detail there because it would be easy to conclude from this piece there is no reliable information that these drugs are safe when used to treat ADD and that's not the case.